Book-Lovers, Are You Guilty of ‘Tsundoku’?

Tsundoku, also known as Ode to the Great Unread, Shrine to the Word, Bibliophile’s Inukshuk, Pillar of Light and Savior of Sorts, is a Japanese word that implies the act of buying books but never reading them, instead, these gorgeous purchases end up sitting on your bookshelves, nightstands, kitchen counters, etc. Wherever they’re kept, they just keep piling up, hoping for the best that they’ll get noticed someday.


Image courtesy of Other-Wordly.Tumblr


Prounounced soon-doh-koo, this is basically a combination of two words, tsunde (to stack things), and dokusho (to read). According to The LA Times, tsudoku describes someone who is “suffering from book stockpiling syndrome.”


Here’s how tsundoku occurs:


After you recklessly pick up books from the bookshop, you put them somewhere and think “I’ll get around to it”, but guess what, that probably won’t happen. On another occasion, you’ll skim some fascinating book reviews online or read a few pages of preview and then make a purchase with one-click. Amazon says here’s a recommended best-seller, click click… and the same thing repeats a couple of weeks later.




Book hoarding is a habit that we’re all too familiar with. The extent to which you have ‘tsundokursed’ can be measured on the tsundoku scale that ranges from one or two unread books to a serious hoard like what Frank Rose did. In his lifetime, he had collected 13,000 volumes, which he hoped to read after retirement. In 2014, when he was aged 85, he finally decided to donate his entire collection to the Arden-Dimick Library in Sacramento. In total, about 500 boxes were used to contain the books during the transportation from Rose’s residence to the library.


Before you drown yourself in guilt, there’s some things you can do about your addiction.


1. Get reading!  

It’s time to change your reading habits before you get buried by all the books you buy but never read. Here are some tips on how to become a better reader.




2. Get donating!

Grab the ones that you stopped reading after the first couple of pages and donate them to your local library or charitable organizations like Books for AfricaBooks for Soldiers, or thrift shops like Goodwill. Gift them to your friends and family members. Whomever you end up giving them to, it’s time to give these books the attention they deserve.




3. Get organizing!

Head to that ancient dusty bookshelf and start organizing. Chances are your book-piling problem will alleviate after you buy a smaller bookshelf. After that, don’t forget to figure out some form of organizational format.




4. Get a Kindle!

Save some trees by making your reading paper-less. But be ware, ‘Tsunkindle’ or ‘E-Tsundoku’ may occur.




However, if the mere presence of the beautiful stacks can bring you joy and lift up your mood, then you have nothing to worry about. As British fiction writer Jeanette Winterson said, “Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it.”


Gifs Courtesy of Giphy

Feature Image Courtesy of Elzo Meridiano – blogger.